Can we cure CHD? No, surgeries are not a cure! We’ve all trained ourselves to vehemently defend this statement, right? But what if I asked you to go against the grain with me here. What if I told you the technology exists to formulate a real cure for Congenital Heart Disease?
There’s a big problem going on in our world right now. CHD is killing children and adults by the thousand every year. It’s the most common birth defect and it’s time to do something about it. Surgery has come a long way and short-term survival rates have immensely improved over the last 3 decades. For the first time in history there are now more adults alive than children with CHD. That is because more children are actually surviving to adulthood.
However, for many of these adults, their health is far from perfect. We are finding that complex forms of CHD and their surgeries take a toll on the whole body. Altered blood flow and abnormal venous pressures can cause liver, lymphatic and digestive issues, just to name a few.
We know that traditional heart transplant is not a cure. Donor organs are in short supply and the fight against organ rejection is a serious concern. Often doctors say transplant is only “trading one set of problems for another.” So what is the true cure for CHD?
The solution to all of these problems has been right with us all along. Right within our bodies that is. Stem cells, collected from a simple blood draw, can be spun down and extracted to grow tissue – like grafts, and one day, replacement valves or even a whole new heart. The technology is developing, we just need to harness it for the treatment of CHD. Just this year, scientists in Japan grew fully functional mouse kidneys from just a few stem cells.
Growing a heart will be more complex than growing kidneys due to the unique role of pumping blood. The heart must not only be structurally grown but also able to beat. Researchers in Germany recently took stem cells to create beating heart tissue. This technology could be used to engineer heart muscle patches. Their research has centered around using pig cells but they hope to move on to real human heart cells.
At Project Heart, our sole mission is to fund the research needed to grow a human heart using a patient’s own DNA. We aren’t just any CHD research nonprofit, we are a dynamic and innovative research development organization. Over the next 20 years we plan to pave a step by step research path for growing a human heart. We are asking medical researchers across the country to collaborate together in a way that’s never been done before. Your support will create an unstoppable force in order to CURE Congenital Heart Disease by the year 2040. Are you with us?